The Publisher/Game Studio Relationship
Since the blog is called “Inside the Game Developer Studio,” I should talk a little bit about what a game studio is.
A game studio is where the eternal dance between the money, the monkey, and marketroids takes place (that would be publisher, developer and marketing in layman’s terms). Given those things and add an extra ingredient of Chemical X to the concoction and you will have a hit game on your hands.
The studio is where developers work to make games. The studio organizes the developers into a team to produce the game, it mediates between the needs of the publisher and the realities of production and it tries to shield the developers from the whims of marketing.
I am making a distinction between the development team that makes the game from the studio because a studio may have multiple teams making multiple games at once, and people from multiple studios may contribute to making one game, like in the case of BioShock.
The studio is where the idea for a game comes from. It is the job of the studio heads to convince the publisher to fund the further development of the idea into a game. This is true regardless if you are a internal studio owned by a publisher or an external studio. This is typically known as the greenlight process.
It is during this step that “Marketing” is most influential, in that they can kill a game outright by convincing the publisher that the cost of development can not be recouped. Thus beginning the relationship between developers and marketing on the right foot, the “kill or be killed” kind.
Marketing also wields great power before the game is launched. It isn’t so much marketing will influence the contents of the game, but how well the game will sell. Marketing can decide that the game will fail and not put any money into the campaign. It may not know how to market the game and fail to engage the core audience.
If everyone did their job, i.e. publishers gave sufficient funding, developers produced a solid game and marketing put together a good campaign, then the game have a chance of becoming a hit. Just a chance of being a hit because unfortunately, no one knows what’s in Chemical X.
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